Greetings from the end of the earth!
I arrived in Ushuia on Monday??? ( I have totally lost track of the days) after flying on a lunch time fight from Calafate. It was only a short 50 minute trip but again, the plane as completely full. The first thing that I did after checking in was to have a quick look at the harbour and see what type of ships were in. They ranged from enormous luxury cruise liners to small ice breakers.
My room mate, Patrick, couldn’t get a seat on our flight and his later flight was further delayed with some form of problem. He arrived just in time for dinner at 8.30 pm. I managed to speak to Cathy and wish her a happy birthday. IÂ´m glad that I could call at a time when she was available.
Before dinner, I decided to catch a taxi to the chairlift which goes up one of the mountains behind town to a small glacier. After all of our spectacular scenery in Patagonia, this area is a bit of an anti climax – it may have been better tyo have come here first. There is less snow on the mountains and the peaks are not as rugged. However, it is an interesting town. Here is a photo of the main street.
Yesterday, we had two half-day tours. In the morning we visited the Tierra Del Fuego National Park. This was very similar in scenery to that we had seen in Patagonia. The main species of tree were Antarctic Beech and Deciduous Beech. (As you go further south, the variety of species decreases). The weather was fine and we walked along the coastline for a little way. Some people went for a ride on a little narrow guage train that follows part of the route originally used when this place was a penal colony (up to 1944) and prisoners cut and collected wood for heating, cooking and electricity production. The train is operated by a Welshman whom I recognised from a travel show that I had once seen on TV.
The road in the National Park ends at a bay and this is also the end of the Intercontinental Highway from Alaska. The sign told me that the distance to Alaska was nearly 18,000 kms and it felt very remote all of a sudden to be on almost the most southern point of the most southern continent.
In the afternoon, we had a boat ride around the Beagle Channel. We stopped to look at a couple of islands that had large colonies of terns and cormorants. We could see penguins in the water and couple of albatrosses were flying around. Our stop at the island with the fur seals resting on it proved that it is better to be upwind of these animals rather than downwind!
This morning, the others in the group departed and went to the airport to begin their trip home. We said our goodbyes and I wandered down the hill to see if my ship was in. It had arrived at 7.00 am this morning to end the previous tour and reprovision for our departure tonight at 6.00 pm. I feel a bit of trepidation on two accounts.
Firstly, it doesnÂ´t look very big. Compared to the cruise liners alongside it at the wharf, it looks very small! On the other hand, I guest that its size is what will enable us to get close in to shore – but what about the big seas? My second cause for trpidation was that we met some of the crew at the restaurant where we had dinner last night and thay said that they came in to Ushuaia yesterday morning and had a Force 10 gale with 10 metre seas! I guess that I’ll have to wait and see what eventuates. Keep reading for updates.
I’m not sure that I’ll be able to upload pictures on the ship as I’ll be back to using my satellite phone again, rather than an InÂ¡ternet Cafe, like now. I may have to put some up when I get back.
Today I have to report to the wharf at 4.00 pm for boarding. I plan to fill in my day by looking at a couple of historical museums in town and perhaps do some shopping. I’m trying to avoid buying too much until I get back to BA so that I donÂ´t have too much to carry.
Well, wish me luck as you wave me goodbye! The warm up part of the trip is over – here comes the main attraction!